By Mark Schaefer
West Virginia University Newspaper Circa 1982
While he was at WVU, Mark Riccardi
couldn't beat out football players Dutch Hoffman and Oliver Luck
for the number one quarterback spot, so now that he's out in
the "real world," he's letting the world beat him -- literally!
Riccardi, a student in the college of arts and sciences and a third-string
quarterback during his tenure at the University, is trying to make a go of
it as a stuntman in Hollywood. Tomorrow at 8 pm he will be appearing in his
most important role to date -- Tripaloni in The Greatest American Hero. He
will be punched by Robert Culp, jump into a moving car, and drive a car that
"The exploding car was specially-designed by the special effects crew," Riccardi
said. "I was in a plexi-glass cage in the car and pushed a button myself when
I was ready to blow up. I only suffered a small concussion in the accident. I
was just getting warmed up, too!"
Before coming to the University, Riccardi spent two years at Potomac State
College where he was an All-East junior college quarterback. "Being a third-string
quarterback at WVU for three years spelled S-T-U-N-T-M-A-N," he said. "All
the punishment I took playing on the scout squad against the first string
defense made me think, 'hell, I might as well as get paid for taking this
beating!' So, I am."
He made his Hollywood debut two years ago in a show called The Great American
Traffic Jam. It was a show he won't soon forget. "I was driving on the freeway
in a motorcycle," he said, "and all of a sudden a truckload of oranges fell
all over the place. Trying to avoid a wreck, I went over an embankment and
into a lake. It was pretty hairy, but after a couple of run-throughs, the
scene went like clockwork."
Riccardi has TV shows Quincy, The Hulk, Ten Speed and Brown Shoe, Today's
FBI, and Strike Force to his credit in addition to his appearance on Greatest
American Hero tomorrow night. He's also worked on the movies The Blue and
the Grey, Stripes and Eye for an Eye.
"With Chuck Norris in Eye for and Eye, I was really bruised," Riccardi said. "I
was beaten, shot, and kicked unmercifully. The movie turned out to be one of
Chuck's best, and he gives the credit to his stuntmen."
And what will it take for him to make it to the top? "My football background
has really given me an edge in the business, but you have to keep pushing.
It's like being alone in the middle of the ocean. You have to keep swimming
because nobody's going to swim for you.
"The discipline, training and drive they teach you in football has been paying
off in my career so far. It's like that third-string quarterback striving to
be number one. I know that feeling and this time I'm going to make it. Meanwhile,
I'm enjoying the way up."
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